1.         Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda) (N 684)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1999-2004

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-2006)
Total amount approved: USD 116,739
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 2003: World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 31 January 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/documents. Progress with a number of conservation issues raised by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report:

The report also notes the development of a mini-hydropower facility inside the property, and a detailed Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on the project was submitted by the State Party following a letter from the World Heritage Centre.

The State Party Report does not clarify if the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Mountains Specialist group has been contacted by the State Party, as recommended by Decision 36 COM 7B.4. The report further indicates that the Government has signed a 25 year concession agreement with a Chinese company, Tibet Hima Ltd to re-open Kilembe copper mine. This concession could involve re-opening mine shafts within the property, as well as carrying out further exploration and development. The State Party also mentions concerns of potential pollution of rivers in the wider ecosystem.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party has made significant progress in engaging local communities through participation in management, formal resource user agreements, funding of community development activities through revenue-sharing, recognition of traditional cultural values and access rights, training in tourism-related services, and a constructive approach to resolving human-wildlife conflict.

The strong commitment of the authorities to working collaboratively with stakeholders in achieving conservation goals and maintaining the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is also recognized. This has resulted in significant investment in development of a business plan; visitor infrastructure; further improvements in community outreach; improved monitoring and research (especially related to climate change impacts); and a series of joint patrols along the border with the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This trans-boundary collaboration should be further enhanced through the establishment of a more formal protocol between the States Parties of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as recommended by Decision 36 COM 7B.4, as well as a more targeted approach to identified challenges such as communication, staff movement restrictions at the borders and mutual understanding of the respective legal frameworks.

The completion of a comprehensive ecological monitoring plan, further progress towards the development of a sustainable financing/business plan for the property and the measures taken to strengthen management effectiveness are acknowledged. It is also noted that the management plan for the property is due for revision in 2015. The areas affected by the high-elevation fires of 2011 are reported to be recovering well. Fire prevention procedures have been improved, and a fire plan has been drafted and is being implemented in cooperation with the local communities.

The ESIA for the proposed small-scale hydro-power generating facility includes a specific assessment of impacts on the OUV, and is currently under review by IUCN.  It is noted that the ESIA report for this development should have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre before the final decision, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

It is recommended that the Committee expresses its utmost concern about the decision to award a 25 year concession agreement to re-open the Kilembe copper mine around and potentially inside the property. Mining inside the property would be incompatible with its World Heritage status. The area potentially affected (the Nyamwamba Valley) is one of the few lower-altitude parts of the property, a last stronghold of endangered and endemic species. Before mining activity is resumed outside the property, a detailed environmental impact assessment should be conducted to asses the potential impacts on the OUV of the property in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.93

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.4, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Welcomes progress made in engaging local communities in management, fire protection activities, sustainable use of resources, sharing of benefits and recognition of the cultural values of the property as well as towards the development of a sustainable financing strategy for the property;
  4. Also welcomes the ongoing trans-boundary collaboration with the management authorities responsible for the bordering Virunga National Park World Heritage property (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and also encourages the States Parties to continue their efforts towards developing a formal protocol to further strengthen this collaboration;
  5. Acknowledges completion of an ecological monitoring plan for the property, the measures taken to strengthen management effectiveness and the work carried out to monitor the effects of climate change on snow recession, glacial melting and species dynamics, and reiterates its recommendation to the State Party to work with the Mountains Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas to safeguard the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in the long term;
  6. Expresses its utmost concern about the decision by the State Party to award a 25 year concession agreement to re-open Kilembe copper mine around and potentially inside the property and urges the State Party to ensure that no mineral exploration or mining is allowed within the property, in line with the Committee’s established position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status;
  7. Requests the State Party to urgently submit to the World Heritage Centre details of the concession awarded to Tibet Hima Ltd and reiterates that before mining activity is resumed outside the property, a detailed environmental impact assessment should be conducted to asses the potential impacts on the OUV of the property in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  8. Also requests the State Party to provide an electronic and three printed copies of the revised management plan, including the sustainable financing plan, for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.